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Octave virginals

The case is veneered in ebony, decorated with silver ornament in the form of strapwork surrounding small circular and oval medallions variously embellished with etching, engraving and enamelling. The underside is fitted with a mirror. Both the lid and the plinth of the virginals contain hidden compartments for writing materials. The virginals' lid is fitted with a sliding slat at the top, which conceals a hidden compartment, and its plinth contains a drawer with a secret catch. The soundboard is spruce and contains a rose of cut-out paper. On the inner side of the top there are three hexagonal windows decorated by the allegorical figures of four senses: hearing, taste, touch and sight. On opening the small openings on the silver gilded plaques, one can see biblical scenes. On the outer side of the casket the enamels depict the seven liberal arts and the whole ensemble is covered with floral motifs in silver and enamel. The decoration is characteristic of the highly prestigious cabinets d'Allemagne, made by Augsburg silversmiths. A very similar example, in the National Museum of Hungary in Budapest, is thought to have been built by Johannes Klebiller, using designs of Lucas Kilian.

  • Date:
    ca. 1610 (made)
  • Maker:
  • Collection:
    Victoria and Albert Museum
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  • Materials:Ebony veneer, applied silver ornament, enamel medallions and spruce soundboard
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  • Inscriptions:LKI - IKF
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  • Repository:Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Measurements:Length: 45 cm, Width: 24 cm, Height: 18.75 cm, Weight: 6.58 kg